- Founded in 1989
- An affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International, an ecumenical Christian housing ministry
- A non-profit organization offering a hand up, not a hand out
- Home ownership created with 28 working families throughout Chautauqua County
- A 100% volunteer organization
Volunteers can make a difference! Individuals and groups are invited to donate their time and talents.
SUNY Fredonia now has a Habitat for Humanity Chapter! Students volunteer their time to help others, including the construction efforts of CAHfH. They also raised money at a Harvest Festival in October to donate to CAHfH. Read their story below.**
Homeowner Families, also known as family partners, are selected after an application process based on their need for decent housing, ability to pay an affordable mortgage and their willingness to partner with Habitat volunteers to work hundreds of hours, contributing “sweat equity” on a Habitat house.
** Formation of Fredonia’s Campus Chapter By Shane Meenaghan
During high school, many of my classmates belonged to a church which would take them on mission trips with Habitat for Humanity. Their excitement to build houses for those in need always interested me. I love volunteering, and therefore at college I looked into existing groups to see if any of them were involved with Habitat. To my surprise, there were no service based organizations which were constantly involved in volunteering with them. With this realization, it began the journey to create the SUNY Fredonia Habitat for Humanity Campus Chapter.
First off, I recruited a group of six qualified and enthusiastic students to join me on my Executive Board, which would help in running the duties of our student organization. Next we created the basis of what we originally wanted our group to be: a group that would provide students a wide variety of community service opportunities. At first, we were going to focus most of our community service with Habitat for Humanity, but not be a campus chapter.
After consulting with the Student Association, our student-run government body, we were urged to reinstate the Habitat campus chapter that had unfortunately been abandonned before any of us attended Fredonia. All of us agreed this was the best opportunity for our group. Therefore, a new position opened up on the E-Board, Habitat for Humanity Coordinator. Our founding student leaders now consisted of… Shane Meenaghan – President (myself), Julia Santangelo – Vice President, Gwyneth Powers – Habitat for Humanity Coordinator, Tommy Linares – Event Coordinator, Latrell Tyson – Treasurer, Jesse Rosky – Publicity Officer, Griffin Tritto – Secretary, and Rosie Drozda – Historian.
Recruiting members was our next step; so we began by asking our peers and friends. The word of Fredonia’s Habitat spread extremely fast though. We were active for a month as a club at the end of the previous school year (Spring Semester of 2016). In that short time period, we grew from 40 members to over 100 members. Our organization is open to any fee-paying faculty and students of SUNY Fredonia. It was pleasantly shocking to witness all of the individuals that expressed interest for Habitat for Humanity and community service activities.
Similar to Habitat for Humanity’s mission statement to build for families regardless of backgrounds and religions, as a campus chapter and Fredonia club we welcome all individuals. We have a wide diversity of ethnicities, genders, school majors, ages, and transfer and international students involved in our group now. Members attend general body meetings to learn new information and sign up for events and volunteering. Besides the Executive Board, there are Executive Assistants who aid them and a Planning Committee which organizes and helps execute fundraisers and social events.
Thanks to great relationships to other groups on campus, we have been able to grow into the campus chapter we are today. Fredonia Radio Systems, SA Community Relations Committee, Alternative Break Program, and the Office of Volunteer and Community Services have aided us in many ways. Our advisor is Nicole Hohenstein, the Coordinator in the Office of Student Services, and our local Chautauqua Area Habitat also guided us.
Fall Semester of 2016 to Spring Semester of 2017 is our first full school year as a SUNY Fredonia club and campus chapter. Our main mission is to improve our local community through aid and volunteering. This includes furthering the college creating a positive relationship with the Village of Fredonia and City of Dunkirk. Building at Habitat for Humanity sites are the group’s main involvement, but we also participate in community cleanups, beach cleanups, Rockin’ the Commons, bake sales, Safe Halloween, Fall Sweep, and Up Till Dawn. Collectively, our group has volunteered over 600 hours this semester.
Our goals cover the four main purposes of being a Habitat campus chapter: building, fundraising, educating, and advocating. SUNY Fredonia’s Habitat for Humanity will be providing many opportunities at site builds for its members. This again includes volunteering in our local Chautauqua Area Affiliate and also branching out to the Buffalo Affiliate. A long term goal of our chapter is to build overseas in another country, but we are currently in the works of spending our spring break building in another state building.
Fundraising helps gain money for our local affiliate, and also for our own group. So far, we have hosted the First Annual Harvest Festival. It helped to raise $2,034.41 that will be donated to the Chautauqua Area Affiliate for building materials and other costs associated with local sites. The campus chapter will also be fundraising money for traveling to site builds and also our spring break trip. Along with fundraisers, we have also had movie nights and barbeques. At any of our events we aim to spread the word about Habitat for Humanity’s mission and to gain new members. Social media, word of mouth, and Fredonia’s activities night strengthen our educating and advocating new members.
SUNY Fredonia’s Habitat for Humanity Campus Chapter now has over 250 students that have expressed desire to be involved in the organization. There have been over 150 individuals attending meetings, planning, and actively volunteering and aiding the campus chapter this year. Even though we are a new group, we have accomplished so much in very little time. It makes me proud to see the dedicated and generous members working to continue to make our chapter a success.